Christian Johansson


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(b Stockholm, 20 May 1817; d St Petersburg, 25 Dec. 1903)

Swedish dancer and teacher. Although Swedish, he spent most of his career in Russia. He studied at the Royal Swedish Ballet School from 1829 and with Bournonville in Copenhagen. In 1837 he was appointed premier danseur in Stockholm where he partnered M. Taglioni but in 1841 moved to St Petersburg where, after a successful debut in La Gitana, he was made premier danseur. He remained at the Imperial Theatres until 1869, creating roles in several ballets by Perrot. It is as a teacher, however, that he achieved lasting fame. After retiring from the stage he became chief teacher at the Imperial Theatre School, where his pupils included Kshessinska, Preobrajenska, P. Gerdt, Nikolai Legat, Vaganova, Pavlova, and Karsavina. He became one of the most important figures in the development of the Russian school of dancing, credited with introducing greater use of ballon (influenced by his Bournonville training), precision batterie, and a variety of virtuoso pirouettes. So inventive was his teaching it is said that he never repeated an enchaînement. He also accompanied his own classes playing a violin.

Subjects: Dance.

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